Available For: iOS, Nintendo DS (reviewed)
Release Date: 2011
Archetype(s): Adventure, Puzzle
An odd, but very interesting and fun adventure/puzzle game that involves a murder mystery about your own death. In Ghost Trick, you’ll constantly be looking at the environment over and over again wondering how you can manipulate things to change the fates and outcomes of otherwise terrible events. While some might call this gimmicky, I personally enjoyed it, even though there is a bit of trial and error.
Most games, especially those with a murder mystery, often have it where you play a lead detective and go around questioning people, finding clues, and in general cutting through the lies to discover the truth. With Ghost Trick…well, YOU’RE the murder mystery. See, you’re already dead. You can allow your spirit to possess various random objects and hop between them to proceed to new areas.
This is a very interesting concept because while at times you may be able to have a little bit of dialogue with people that are also dead, for the most part you can only interact in this one way. Even more interesting is that with people that are only recently dead, you can rewind time to try to prevent their untimely demise, learn more about the characters and environments, and in general further your investigation into your murder.
As you may have guessed, Ghost Trick is a very…different…game. It’s a bevy of interesting ideas kind of slapped together to create a game that…well, to be honest is hard to even compare to anything else. I guess I’d most closely relate it to Zack & Wiki. The game usually has you solving various puzzles that are often timed in one room, then moving on to the next area, sometimes returning when things have changed to learn more about the characters and events surrounding your death.
Normally I’d say that room puzzles are lazy and unimaginative. In fact, I do say that. Room puzzle games are the laziest form of adventure gaming ever. All you do is figure out how to get the fuck out of the room and lo and behold, new room to figure out how to get the fuck out of. I’ve seen this happen with titles like Zack & Wiki and even Machinarium, but fortunately both of those titles get out of that rut and eventually become something fantastic.
The good news is even if Ghost Trick managed to be this type of game and nothing more, it would still be fun, creative, and imaginative all in one because of exactly how you traverse from place to place and interact with things. Again, you’re nothing more than a spirit, so most of the time you’re just a fly on the wall, but sometimes you can modify things just right with subtle actions that eventually yield great results.
I don’t want to give any major spoilers away, but again, it’s really clever how all this Rube Goldberg shit comes together at times. Now honestly, I could end the review here and that would be enough, but two things. Firstly, I’m sure you’d rather I say more about it and be consistent with my other reviews as a result. Secondly, I really haven’t demonstrated what the game is or how it works.
Now sure, it operates a lot like Zack & Wiki, but with a twist. Again, you can only possess objects and, in some cases, operate them to a slight degree. So for example, maybe you can cause an umbrella to open, make a door open, or turn on a radio. Again, these are fairly subtle actions. You can’t possess the living and while you can possess the dead, you can only do so to link with their thoughts and rewind time.
Sadly, you can’t zombify them nor can you control peoples’ minds. Probably the most expedient form of travel, and as a result what most puzzles center around, is that of phones. See, not only can you get the number and location of who is calling on a phone, but you can also warp there via the phone line. This is especially helpful, not only in covering ground quickly, but also in hunting down your aggressors more efficiently.
So I’m going to cut it about here. Yes, I would recommend this game, but probably not for the price it’s going at. If you trudge right through it, you’ll probably finish it even quicker than a Phoenix Wright game because there isn’t even as much dialogue. This game is very fun and very interesting, but it almost can’t exist as a $30 game anymore. If you can find it for $20 or less, go for it.